Movie Review: ‘An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving’ stars Jacqueline Bisset, Helene Joy, and Tatiana Masla

November 25, 2019

“An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving” (2008, Rated G), reviewed by Jennifer Anne F. Messing.

An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving is one-hour, thirty minute, Affirm Films release, in color, starring Jacqu​​eline Bisset, Helene Joy, and Tatiana Maslany, directed by Graeme Campbell. This heartwarming holiday drama set in New England in the mid-19th century is based on the short story by Louisa May Alcott, who also authored the classic novel, “Little Women.”

Mathilda Bassett (Tatiana Maslany) is the teenaged daughter of Mary Bassett (Helene Joy), a young widow with three children who struggles to make ends meet. Mary is also a woman with strong principles who uses her nursing skills to help others who are poor and needy.

Because of Mathilda’s concern that her family won’t have a nice Thanksgiving, she writes a letter to a lady whom she believes is her wealthy grandmother, Isabella Caldwell (Jacqueline Bisset), who lives abroad. In the letter Mathilda, a young lady with a vivid imagination, takes many liberties in describing her family’s hardship to be worse than it really is to gain the compassion of her supposed grandmother.

After a few weeks and shortly before Thanksgiving, Isabella (Jacqueline Bisset) arrives in town intending to visit her granddaughter and her daughter’s family. Mary Bassett, unaware that Mathilda had composed the letter to her grandmother, is completely surprised by her mother’s arrival.

The surprise visit, coupled with the estrangement that has existed between Isabella and Mary for many years, creates family strain. Mary is forced to recall memories from her unhappy childhood. It’s during this time that both Isabella and Mary have to comes to terms with the past and their resentment towards each other. All of this is happening as Mathilda is dealing with coming-of-age issues in her life and her desire to discover if the man pursuing her is the right one to marry.

An unexpected turning point occurs that causes Isabella, Mary, and Mathilda to examine their hearts, find out what’s really important in life as well as let go of past hurts…and hopefully enjoy their Thanksgiving holiday at last.

An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving is a heart-tugging holiday film that speaks about love of family, loyalty, and the importance of forgiveness. No family is perfect, and we all have experienced times when those we love the most are also the ones who hurt us the most. Granting forgiveness to our family members offers a soothing balm that can heal hurtful memories from our past.

An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving is also a delightful viewing experience because it offers a respite from our electronically-driven, fast-paced lifestyle and transports us temporarily back into a time when people lived slower-paced lives that were abundant in genteel and simple pleasures. The period costumes are authentic and beautiful, and the movie was shot in scenic locales and homes in Toronto and Ontario, Canada, which paint a vivid picture of mid-19th century life in New England.

Jacqueline Bisset rendered a solid performance as the financially well-off grandmother who was able to demonstrate humility and genuine motherly love when it counted. Helene Joy gave a memorable performance as Mary Bassett, a remarkable mother in her own right, who showed her children by example how to live a life of purpose and the importance of reaching out to others who are less fortunate.

May you enjoy a Happy Thanksgiving with those you love!


Movie Trailer: “An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving” stars Jacqueline Bisset,

Helene Joy, and Tatiana Maslany

Period Drama/ Romance/ Inspirational. Rated G. Appropriate for family viewing. Photo credits: Affirm Films.

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To Portland, Oregon residents: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving (2008) in DVD and Blu-ray format can be rented at Movie Madness, 4320 SE Belmont, Portland, Oregon, 97215, tel. 503-234-4363.



Jennifer Anne Fabregas Messing is a Cascade Writing Contest WINNER (“Published Short Story”), an award-winning author, poet, and speaker with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Religious Education. A past president of the Oregon Christian Writers, she has authored three books and more than 250 articles, short stories, and poems published in 60 magazines, including: The Storyteller, Flurries of Words, LIVE, Evangel, FellowScript, and The Proverbs 31 Woman. Originally from the Philippines, Jennifer Anne has been married to Michael Messing for 29 years. They are the parents of three young adult children and reside in Oregon, USA.

Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin. Get information about her latest books, Morning's Promise: Poetic Moments in His Presence and Everlasting Love: Romantic Vignettes for a Woman’s Heart on this website, on Amazon, and Barnes&Noble online.

Copyrighted © by Jennifer Anne Fabregas Messing. All rights reserved. Contact the author for reprint information. Email:

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